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Former SC Gov. Mark Sanford eyes US House bid

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who left public life two years ago after mysteriously disappearing to visit his then-mistress in Argentina, is poised to re-enter the political arena.

By Seanna AdcoxAssociated Press / December 23, 2012

In this 2009 file photo, former Gov. Mark Sanford is pictured at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Sanford says he may run for a seat in Congress.

Mary Ann Chastain/AP

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COLUMBIA, S.C.

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who left public life two years ago after mysteriously disappearing to visit his then-mistress in Argentina, is poised to re-enter the political arena.

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Acknowledging reports that he is seriously weighing a congressional bid for the seat he once held, Sanford wrote in an email to The Associated Press late Saturday: "To answer your question, yes the accounts are accurate." Sanford promised "further conversation on all this" later.

The two-term governor was a rising Republican political star before he vanished from South Carolina for five days in 2009. Reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he later tearfully acknowledged he was visiting Maria Belen Chapur, which he told everyone at a news conference announcing his affair. He later called her his soul mate in an interview with AP and the two were engaged earlier this year.

The opening for Sanford comes after Rep. Tim Scott was appointed to fill the remaining two years of Sen. Jim DeMint's seat. DeMint announced earlier this month he was resigning.

News that Sanford, 52, may be interested in the seat comes days after his ex-wife, Jenny, appeared to be dipping her toe into the state's political waters.

She was reportedly on Gov. Nikki Haley's short list of candidates to fill the seat that went to Scott. Jenny Sanford later said she would think about a run for Scott's seat representing the coastal 1st Congressional District, the seat her ex-husband is now considering.

"I'd be crazy not to look at the race a little bit," she said Tuesday, before reports about Mark Sanford surfaced.

State Republicans said Scott plans to submit his letter of resignation from the House on Jan. 2, triggering a process of candidate filing and primaries leading up to a special election in May.

Scott, in a taped interview airing Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," said he thinks there may be 25 or 30 candidates running for the seat.

"This is going to be a very active primary," he told Bob Schieffer when asked about Sanford's run. "The citizens of the 1st District will have an opportunity to have their voice heard through the vote and then two weeks later there will obviously be a runoff because with that many candidates we'll have a lot to say grace over."

Mark Sanford knows the 1st District well. Elected to the seat in 1994 – Jenny Sanford managed his first campaign and was a close adviser for most of his career – he served three terms before voters elected him governor in 2002.

The former governor would bring name recognition and money to the race – two things especially important due to the short campaign season and wide-open field.

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